Lateral Raise Seated

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Adjust the seat height accordingly so that the pads are just above your elbows on your upper arm.
  2. Grab the handles with a closed grip.
  3. Place both feet flat on the floor.
  4. Sit straight up. Keep torso erect throughout the entire movement.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Raise arms out to your sides, lifting the pads. Lift until your elbows reach the level of your shoulders.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, slowly lower the weight by reversing the movement to starting position.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Middle deltoid
  • Synergists: Supraspinatus
  • Stabilizers: Biceps brachii (long head) and other rotator cuff muscles
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Shoulder abduction
  • Equipment: Seated lateral raise machine
  • Lever: 3rd class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Lateral Raise Seated

    What Is A Machine Seated Lateral Raise?

    A seated lateral raise machine is used to target the middle deltoid. This exercise is performed seated while raising both arms against resistance to the sides of the body.

    The concentric portion of the lift is shoulder abduction. The eccentric portion is shoulder adduction as the weight is lowered.

    The purpose of the lateral raise is to strengthen the middle deltoid while also promoting the hypertrophy (increases in size) of this muscle.

    Why Do A Machine Seated Lateral Raise?

    The lateral raise machine activates the middle deltoid as the middle deltoid is a primary shoulder abductor. Activating the middle deltoid contributes to the hypertrophy of the shoulder muscles, providing roundness and a fuller appearance.

    The resistance positioned above the elbow grants the lifter a leverage advantage as the resistance is placed closer to the deltoid. In a traditional lateral raise with dumbbells, the distance between the dumbbell and the deltoid, spanning the entire arm, creates a leverage disadvantage. The closer the load (weight) is to the working muscle and fulcrum, the greater the potential for force production. The fulcrum is the pivotal point in the movement. In this exercise, the fulcrum is the shoulder joint.

    Performing this exercise in a seated position allows the lifter to further isolate the movement to their upper body. The pulley system of the machine also provides a uniform resistance throughout the entire range of motion.

    Although it is primarily an exercise for aesthetics, lateral raises also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Anatomy Of A Machine Seated Lateral Raise

    The deltoid is a thick, multipennate muscle that forms a curtain around the shoulder. It is the primary muscle involved with arm abduction and the middle fibers are a primary shoulder abductor. When developed, the deltoids give the shoulder their round shape. The origin of the deltoid is located at the insertion of the trapezius, lateral third of the clavicle and the acromion spine of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus.

    The supraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. It is located on the posterior aspect of the scapula, underneath the trapezius. The supraspinatus assists the middle deltoid fibers with shoulder abduction. Its origin is located at the infraspinous fossa of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the greater tubercle of the humerus.

    The biceps brachii consists of two heads, the long head and the short head. The long head tendon helps stabilize the shoulder joint and its origin is located at the tubercle and lip of the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The long head of the biceps brachii acts as a stabilizer of the humeral head during shoulder abduction.

    The rotator cuff muscles play an essential role in stabilizing the shoulders during this exercise.

    Variations Of A Machine Seated Lateral Raise

    Dumbbell lateral raise, side-lying lateral raise, cable lateral raise.

    How To Improve Your Machine Seated Lateral Raises

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as the elbows approach shoulder level.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    Incorporate the free weight version(s) of this exercise (i.e. seated overhead dumbbell press, seated overhead barbell press) to optimize the hypertrophy of the middle deltoid.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between shoulder training days to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Machine Seated Lateral Raises

    Raising the elbows above the level of the shoulder can minimize the activation of the deltoid and place negative stress on the shoulder joint.

    Swinging the torso and/or moving the legs throughout the movement minimize the activation of the working muscles and increase the risk for injury. Do not use body momentum to lift the weight during concentric phases. Do not drop the weight on its way down. The concentric and eccentric phases should be controlled.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding A Machine Seated Lateral Raise

    If the lifter has a compromised range of motion with the shoulder joint and/or performs this exercise incorrectly, this exercise can increase the risk of injury and/or exacerbate a previous injury. Performing this exercise with a weight too heavy for the lifter can also increase the risk for injury.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and glenoid labrum tears may result.

    Lifters with a history of shoulder injury or present state of injury should consult with a physical therapist or orthopedic physician before performing this exercise.